Virginia Congressman Thomas Garrett, R-Buckingham. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia Republican Congressman Thomas Garrett announced on Memorial Day that he is withdrawing as the candidate for re-election of the 5th District.

“I am an alcoholic,” Garrett said in a video shot at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.  “This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made, by far.”

It is also an important statement and first step for a man who recognizes he must face and battle the beast of alcoholism.

I understand what Garrett faces.  In 1994, I walked into my first meeting of alcoholics anonymous in a church basement in Arlington, VA and said those same words:  “I am an alcoholic.”

Two years after that sobering moment, I wrote an Op Ed column declaring the same thing to the public at large.

Next week, on June 6, I will pick up my new chip for 24 years of sobriety.

It’s not easy to admit to one’s self that he or she is an alcoholic.  I drank for 35 years before Amy and some good friends arranged an “intervention” that forced me to face my illness.

It was a needed wake-up call and the beginning of a vital new chapter of our lives.

“This isn’t an ending for me, or my values of service to my fellow man, it’s just a new beginning,” Garrett said Monday.

That’s the right attitude, Thomas, and best wishes from a fellow traveler.  When you stumble — and, yes, we all do — just know that we are here for you to provide a helping hand, a listening ear and, if needed, a ride home.

But while you are coming forward with your alcoholism, take some time to explain the reports of abuse of staff by you and your wife.  While a drinking problem can explain some of it, such behavior probably goes much deeper.

Welcome to a new life — one day at a time.

 

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